“There’s a fly in here.” That’s the first thing my mother-in-law said when I walked into her room this evening. She’s in her 80s and very frail.
“What?” I asked.
“A fly,” she said. “It’s driving me crazy. It touches everything.”
I tried to change the subject, but all she wanted to talk about was the fly.
Then I saw it. There really was a fly, zooming around the room. I don’t know where it came from. It’s cold outside, and we’ve got several feet of snow on the ground.
I started chasing the fly. I didn’t have a flyswatter, but I figured it I flattened my palm and snapped my forearm from the elbow, I could be a human flyswatter.
My mother-in-law can’t see very well because of her macular degeneration, but she yelled helpful things anyhow. “I think it’s over there! It just went past your head!”
The institutional beige of the walls made it easy to spot the fly, but it was moving pretty fast. I smacked the arm of her chair, the edge of her bed, and the doorframe. I knocked over the lamp.
And then I got it. I killed the fly.
“Hurray!” my mother-in-law screamed. She was actually laughing aloud. “You GOT THE FLY!”
I washed my hands and tried to look modest.
We talked about other things, but then every once in awhile she’d look up out of the blue and say, “I can’t wait to tell everyone! You killed the fly!” We’d go back to talking the kids and what they were doing and what the holidays are going to be like, and then she’d burst out again, “You killed the fly!”
I drove home feeling like I’d accomplished something today.